Take Taco Tuesday to the Next Level
I, like most humans, love a taco. There’s something deeply satisfying about the near-perfection contained in the simple ingredients that comprise a taco. Eight years ago, The Lego Movie – which features a plot line that hinges on “Taco Tuesday” – became firmly embedded in our family culture (my kids were big fans). As a result, tacos are served nearly every Tuesday at our house. Even eating them that often, we never get tired of them, since they’re tasty and open to nearly endless variations.
Usually, I’m not fussy or fancy about our taco dinners – what’s not to love about a ground-beef-seasoned-from-a-mix taco smothered in cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and salsa? It’s reliably delicious, quick, and relatively cheap. Still, there are times when you might find grilled chicken on the table, or some deliciously-seasoned carne asada (Trader Joe’s makes a version of this that I find particularly tasty). I have even made taco filling out of lentils (I loved it . . . other diners at my home had different feelings about that particular variation).
I ate my first fish taco at a beach-side stand in Southern California 30 years ago on vacation. I’m a pretty adventurous eater, but I wasn’t sure that fried fish and cabbage could really be called a “taco,” even if it was folded into a warm, fresh corn tortilla. I took one bite and realized that my willingness to try new things had led me somewhere amazingly delicious. Fish, it turns out, works in a taco just as well as all the other proteins I love so much. As an added bonus, the veggies in a fish taco (mostly cabbage) offer a bigger nutritional payday than plain old lettuce.
Most of the time, I deconstruct my tacos and make them into a salad, often skipping the carb-heavy taco shell altogether. I love the deep-fried fish usually found on a fish taco, but if I’m making fish tacos at home, I opt for grilled or pan-fried instead. And although I tend to want a healthy amount of shredded cheese on a regular taco, I find that I don’t want or need cheese on a fish taco. The result of all of those modifications is a tasty, easy, meal that tastes indulgent but is actually very nutritionally sound. You know, the sort of meal to feel good about eating regularly . . . perhaps once a week on Tuesdays.
The base of this dish is a riff on traditional coleslaw. Most fish tacos feature a creamy dressing, but I keep it lighter with just a bit of olive oil. If you’re looking to enrich this dish, adding a dollop of mayo and a dollop of sour cream to the cabbage mixture would easily do the trick. I like to mix the slaw up early in the day and then stash it in the fridge to allow it to soften up the cabbage a bit, but making the slaw immediately before serving works great too. Cilantro, mint, and radishes add flavor and complexity, so don’t skimp on those ingredients, and be sure to add salt to taste. During warmer weather, I love to grill fish on a cedar plank, which adds flavor and makes cleanup a breeze.
Serving this salad with the fish fillets intact makes for a pretty presentation. Be sure to break the fish up a bit when you toss this salad prior to serving so you get a nice combination of flavors in every bite. This meal is delicious and good for you, so putting it on weekly rotation is a great idea, on Tuesday or any other day of the week.
Article and photo by Lisa Crockett